New legislation will see the government take control of the country’s physical hardware and transmission equipment, claiming that Telecommunication Company of Iran (TCI) has failed to effectively expand their fixed network

According to local media, the Iranian government has now adopted major legislation that will see them retake control of the country’s fixed broadband infrastructure from TCI.
Iran’s fixed infrastructure was first privatised back in 2009, with the government divesting of their 51% stake in 2009, raising around $2 billion. Since then, however, the government has been displeased with TCI’s network rollout, repeatedly accusing the company of hampering the rollout of fixed infrastrucrure. 
Discussing the new bill, telecoms minister Mohammad Javad Azari said that TCI had “occupied” the infrastructure for years, creating a “major obstacle” to increasing the Iranian citizens’ access to the internet. 
As a result of this long-term dissatisfaction, the decision to renationalise the assets have been in discussion for around three years. The new legislation will allow the government to directly take back control of major hardware including channels, ducts, and distribution equipment from TCI.
The bill will be adopted into law once approved by parliament and Iran’s Guardians Council, a body that vets parliamentary legislation.
In related news, back in March, Iran signed the Iran–China 25-year Cooperation Program. The final details of the agreement have not been made public, but a draft of the deal seen by media back in 2020 suggested that China would invest around $400 billion into the Iranian economy over the 25-year period. 
Part of the motivation behind this deal appears to be the Iranian governments desire to use Chinese technology to further crackdown on internet freedoms, with one of the regime’s clerics and Vice Chairman of the Commission of Principle 90, Mahmoud Nabavian, explaining to a state-run news agency that the government had “lost control” of cyberspace. 
“At the moment, unfortunately, we do not have control over cyberspace, search engines, social media, and e-mail, and we have lost control of it, and it is very important for us to be able to control our cyberspace by working with the Chinese. Produce tablets, laptops and mobile phones and cooperate with China in the field of artificial intelligence,” he said.
Iran is already one of the most authoritarian countries in the world when it comes to internet censorship and this deal with China, coupled with the renationalisation of national fixed broadband infrastructure, could see the country’s internet freedom’s diminish yet further.
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